design careers

Know Your Worth: Where Can You Earn the Most as a Fresher Architect?

ishika kapoor

Writer at Oneistox

April 20

06 mins read

Pay scales in architecture are a controversial topic, infamous for its low wages and long working hours. For architects fresh out-of-college, incomes compared to other professionals are generally lesser, but that’s not necessarily true across the world! Architecture salaries vary drastically in different regions, changing with macro criteria like living expenses, economic and infrastructural development, projected growth; to micro criteria like firm size, professional experience, and even (most ridiculously)- gender.

Bar diagram comparing monthly architectural pay scales among sub-continents, in US Dollars. (Source: payscale.com)

If you’re considering international job options, looking to apply for internships globally, deciding upon where to do your masters, or even considering setting up your own practice somewhere, this is the guide for you. Also find a breakdown of fresher architect salaries in India towards the end!

Made by detailed analysis of data available on payscale.com, here is an exhaustive comparison of fresher architect pay scales across the globe:

1. The Middle East

Bar diagram comparing monthly architectural pay scales in the Middle East, in USD. (Source: payscale.com)

The Middle-East has been in the midst of a construction boom for a couple decades now, seeing a spike in the demand for architects. Thus, it’s not surprising that UAE and Qatar are among the highest-paying countries in the world for architecture professionals!

Fun fact: before the explosion of skyscrapers and futuristic design in the Middle East, the region was known for its surreal islamic vernacular architecture. Some famous gems of the Middle East are City Theatre in Iran, Cymbalista Synagogue in Israel, Baghdad Gymnasium in Iraq, and many more.

[Read: Resilient Cities: Design Learning from Beirut’s Tragedy]

2. North America

Bar diagram comparing monthly architectural pay scales among North American countries, in USD. (Source: payscale.com)

USA and Canada are among the Top 5 highest paying countries in the world for architects. The United States has become a hub for architects with some of the leading universities for Architecture like MIT, Harvard, Columbia, etc, as well as the headquarters of architectural giants like BIG, Gensler, Gehry Partners, HKS. Inc and many more. The average salary of a fresher architect is $4166 per month, which amounts to about $50k annually. The average annual salary for architects at any level of experience according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics is approx. $82,000.

Like the US, Canada has some famous architectural marvels like CN Tower, Habitat 67, Royal Ontario Museum, and more. It has the added advantage of having some fast-growing cities with increasing focus on infrastructure development.

3. Africa

Bar diagram showing monthly architectural pay scales among African countries. (Source: payscale.com)

The architectural profession in Africa is rather underestimated, but it shouldn’t be! The developing nations in Africa cater to a diverse range of building types from sustainable rural developments to luxurious commercial projects. African countries are full of potential with architects developing some stunning low-cost and sustainable building techniques that can be followed by the rest of the world. Some of examples of such projects are Bosjes Chapel in South Africa, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kenya, Lycée Schorge Secondary School in Burkina Faso, and many more.

4. Europe

Bar diagram comparing monthly architectural pay scales among European countries, in USD. (Source: payscale.com)

For the layperson, Europe is synonymous with architecture. A lot of the continent’s income is from tourism associated with architectural heritage! So, it’s not surprising that Europe is one of the best regions to practice architecture even today.

The United Kingdom is headquarters for some ‘star-chitecture’ firms, like Foster+ Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Heatherwick Studio, and more; while also being home to universities like AA, UCL Bartlett, Oxford, etc. The UK offers its fresher architects an average monthly salary of £2000, placing it in the second position for highest architecture salaries by country according to payscale.com.

Switzerland is known to be the highest paying country in the world for architecture. The unemployment rate in Switzerland is the lowest in the world, but the country is also infamous for its living expenses. The average monthly salary a fresher architect gets is 4000 Fr, which amounts to around US$ 4334.33.

[Read: Why is Chris Precht one of the most Popular Young Architects Today?]

5. Latin America and the Carribean

Bar diagram comparing architectural pay scales in Latin America. (Source: payscale.com)

Latin America is represented by the likes of Alejandro Aravena, Oscar Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi. Brazil and Chile are well known in the architectural world for their pioneering endeavours, where Brazil’s architecture is modernist and contemporary while Chile has a stronger traditional presence. An architect would earn an average of 1300 USD per month in Latin America, which varies widely from country-to-country due to disparities in development.

To increase your knowledge of well-known work in Latin American countries, check out Villa Verde Housing, Cabanas Morerava in Chile, and the Joa Chapel in Brazil!

6. The Asia- Pacific

Bar diagram comparing architectural pay scales in the Asia- Pacific countries. (Source: payscale.com)

From India to Australia, the Asia-Pacific is a large categorization for vastly diverse kinds of architecture, culture, and levels of economic development. Therefore, it’s not surprising that architecture salaries also vary drastically in this region. Though the average pay scale for fresher architects as mentioned in the beginning is 1600 USD, it varies from 266 USD in India to 3279 USD in Australia.

According to payscale.com, it seems that the Indian subcontinent, which includes India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, are some of the lowest paying countries in the world for architects. Since we at Oneistox are based in India, let’s take that statistic up in some detail:

Bar diagram comparing architectural pay scales of large cities in India. (Source: payscale.com)

The average monthly salary of a fresher architect in India is around ₹20,000, which amounts to 266.34 USD. This varies slightly from city to city, where New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad are among the highest paying.

[Read: Interesting Trends in the Use of Rhino 3D in the Indian Design Industry]

At this point, the question of why there is such a drastic difference in pay scales in the Indian subcontinent versus the rest of the world might arise. Worry not, we will be answering it in successive articles, so stay tuned!

Save this document for when you need to decide where to apply for an internship or for masters, or simply to visualise your dream job! For more relevant information related to your design career, check out Oneistox's Learning Hub.

ishika kapoor

student of architecture
Ishika Kapoor is an architecture student graduating from Thakur School of Architecture and Planning, Mumbai. She is a sucker for good thrillers and art, and believes in the motto of trying something new every day. She promotes social causes through architecture and believes that when design resonates with words, it stimulates power.

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